|Annie Graham Rockfellow was born in western New York State and entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1885 as MIT's first female architecture student, graduating in 1887. She worked as a draftsman in Rochester, N.Y., in the late 1880s and early 1890s before moving to Tucson in 1895. At the behest of her brother John, who taught math at the University of Arizona, she accepted a position instructing students in English and drawing at the UofA but found she didn't really like teaching. In 1897 she moved back to New York and remained there until 1909 when she relocated to Tombstone to care for her ailing father.
Rockfellow began her architectural career in Tucson in 1916 as chief architectural designer for Henry O. Jaastad, a prolific architect whose firm is credited with some 500 buildings in Tucson and southern Arizona. Prior to accepting this position, Rockfellow attended the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 in San Diego where she saw regional historical architectural styles celebrated and began using the look in many of her Tucson buildings. In the Old Pueblo, she designed the Safford School, Southern Arizona Bank and Trust Co. building, Christian Science church, the first buildings of the Desert Sanatorium, El Conquistador Hotel (demolished in 1968), and the Young Women's Christian Association building. She also designed several residences and buildings in Safford and Miami, AZ. In 1999, Rockfellow's Spanish Mission Revival-style 1918 Safford School won first place in the historic architecture category in a contest co-sponsored by the UofA College of Architecture and the Tucson Weekly.
In addition to her architectural work, Annie Rockfellow was active in Arizona Pioneers' Society, the Business and Professional Women's Clubs, the National League of American Pen Women and served on the board of the YWCA.
For more information see "Remembering Rockfellow: Although Her Name Is All But Forgotten, Tucson's First Female Architect Left Her Mark," by Margaret Regan, Tucson Weekly, Jan. 31, 2000, http://weeklywire.com/ww/01-31-00/tw_feat.html and the following website:http://www.rockfellowfamily.com/agr/bio.html
Annie Graham Rockfellow - Courtesy of Lisa Waite Bunker
Safford School (PC172 96027) - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson
El Conquistador Hotel, Tucson (PC172 95921) - Courtesy of Arizona Historical Society, Tucson